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B&W photography
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Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
B&W photography on 11/12/2012 13:10:17 MST Print View

Something I wrote that maybe some of the hobbyists would like... My not-so-professional opinion on B&W outdoor photography. :)

I was going to copy and paste it here..but the formatting looks funky! :D

Can read it here:

Edited by PaulMags on 11/12/2012 13:11:37 MST.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
B&W photography on 11/12/2012 13:46:05 MST Print View

A better term for what you do would be Monochromatic.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Technical terminology on 11/12/2012 14:36:20 MST Print View

I am not a technical person/professional ..and neither are most people. :)

I'll leave the more technically correct terminology to well, people who are more about the technically correct terms. :D

It is kinda like people in my field of work correcting user who think web browsing not working being synonymous with "The internet is down".

They have an IP address, can hit outside FTP sites, can access web sites via an IP, etc...but if I was to tell them that info, their eyes would glaze over as mine did just did now. ;)

So yeah.."The Internet is down" and everyone knows what is meant.

So I shoot in B&W...and everyone knows what it meant. :)

Technically incorrect perhaps. But the meaning is given across to average shmucks like me.

Edited by PaulMags on 11/12/2012 14:57:33 MST.

Derek Westcott
(drwestco) - F
Re: B&W photography on 11/12/2012 18:13:13 MST Print View

Gotta disagree on the part about B&W being able to counteract poor lighting conditions, or otherwise rescue a crappy photo. B&W is all about texture and light/shadow contrast, so can actually magnify the effects of poor lighting. A bad photo is a bad photo - it's rare that a bad color photo makes an excellent B&W one.

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: B&W photography on 11/12/2012 19:07:29 MST Print View

Until relatively recently I didn't have too much appreciation for B&W photography; it felt more of a gimmick than a practical technique. That changed as I realized that B&W was about composition much more than it was about color. (Sometimes, when stripping away extraneous elements, even the presence of color may be a distraction.)

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Bad photos on 11/12/2012 22:12:35 MST Print View

>>A bad photo is a bad photo - it's rare that a bad color photo makes an excellent B&W >>one.

Gotta disagree with your disagreement. :)

Low-light, foggy and flat color days IMO are less than ideal for color photos but seem to work well in B&W or whatever it's called. :)

That's just my experience/opinion anyway.

And you know what people says about opinions and something else: We all have one and they all stink. ;)

Edited by PaulMags on 11/12/2012 22:16:09 MST.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Bad photos on 11/13/2012 04:43:10 MST Print View

"A bad photo is a bad photo - it's rare that a bad color photo makes an excellent B&W one."

Have to agree with Paul on this. Sometimes a bad color photo that has good composition can actually work very well as a BW (monochrome) photo. Sometimes it is the color itself that makes the image poor, because, as had been said earlier, often color is a distraction. Try it. All digital photos are taken as color images, including those that come out of the camera rendered BW. Put the image into an image editor and desaturate it. You'll get a BW image. Sometimes what you get will be much more powerful than the original color image, though sometimes it will be the opposite, much worse.

BW is a great way to start to learn to "see" photographically, because it forces you to look at contrast and composition and the way light works. You begin to notice patterns and texture and "negative space". When taking photos of people you'll concentrate more on their expressions, behavior, and positions. It's a great way to get introduced to photography.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: Bad photos on 11/13/2012 07:53:54 MST Print View

I'll agree with Paul and Miguel that a lot of great B&W photos would not make good color photos. There's a pretty big difference, though, between "rescuing" an image by desaturating it, and seeing and shooting it with a final B&W image in mind. This shot was taken in the early morning on a cloudy, rainy day. I don't think this is a very interesting color image, but the black and white I like quite a bit. I intended for this to be a B&W image when I shot it. 1


Derek Westcott
(drwestco) - F
Re: Bad photos on 11/13/2012 09:52:58 MST Print View

Now that I'd agree with. If the colors are boring, you can still wind up with an interesting desaturated image. The composition and lighting still need to be there, though.

Also agree that you should shoot with B&W in mind if that's the type of photo you're going for. Sometimes you can get lucky desaturating a random image and coming up with something nice. More often, you're fooling yourself. It's very hard to analyze your own photos - there's often a strong emotional attachment, and the novelty of B&W can trick you into thinking you've got gold. I see a similar pattern when people first discover HDR. It takes awhile to get the now-passe picture styles out of your system.

That said, if you've got a photo you really like, who am I (or anyone, for that matter) to tell you different?